In cooking pumpkin recipes

Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese

This is the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had. Ever. And I'm a big fan of noodles covered in creamy melt-y cheese. 

A friend at work shared this recipe with me, I was a little skeptical, but I tried it out on Thanksgiving and let me assure you, I will be including this on every Thanksgiving menu from now until I'm too old to cook (read: too old to be trusted in the kitchen). 

*Full disclosure, I was unable to find Fontina cheese, so I used all Gruyere instead. I shred it instead of cubing it, and was very happy with the results!

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In Cleveland Cleveland Metroparks family fun local Local Love

Local Love: Penitentiary Glen Reservation {November '17}

This month's local love post is dedicated to Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland, Ohio.

The official link is here.

Now through January 1st is Candy Land goes Wild, which is a life size Candy Land board where you get to be the players. This is the second year Jace and I have gone, and we loved it. This year we brought friends and got to explore the outdoors as well!

There's a huge nature playground that all the kids loved, which had a sand pit, a pond, a jungle gym made of wood, and all kinds of nature themed play. All the kids, age 1-8, enjoyed themselves and would have been happy to stay and continue playing!

The details:

The park/nature center is open year round and free to the public.

Candy Land is free to the public, hot chocolate is 50 cents a cup, and on the weekends s'mores are free.

If there's snow, they do snow shoe rentals by the hour.

It's an hour drive away, but I'd say it's totally worth it, we spent three hours there Saturday, and it was a wonderful afternoon of fun!

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In 2017 Flourish being intentional things I'm loving

Things I'm Loving {November '17}

1.) Alias Grace

While it isn't nearly as gripping as The Handmaids Tale (come on April 2018, I need season 2!), it was still a very interesting and well done adaptation of a book. Thank you Netflix for providing me with two days of entertainment! Also, perhaps I ought to try harder to space out my viewing of shows?

2.) My husband

Allow me to be a little mushy for a moment, because right now I'm loving Nathan. Because November 7th should have been baby #3's second birthday, which triggered a super fun depressive episode that resulted in a crying, listless, overly-emotional mess named Camille that lasted for two days. By now, when this happens, Nathan just moves into babysitter mode, making sure I'm a stable kind of depressed, not a dangerous kind of depressed. And for that, and for the lack of judgement and plethora of patience, I love him.

3.) Holiday Planning 

This year I'm hosting my first Thanksgiving, so I've been having a blast creating a menu and even sending out invitation via email.
And then there's Christmas, I've started my Christmas shopping and planning and even making the decorations for our pod at work (Nightmare Before Christmas themed!!).

4.) Stranger Things 2

Like the rest of the population, I loved season 2, and it just made me even more excited for season 3! Dustin is adorable, and seeing the characters grow (like the rest of the world, I really loved Steve by the end of this season) just made me happy. Also, I started following them on Twitter and they're just as adorable in real life!

What are you loving this month? Link up below! 

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In foster foster care. foster parents

Lorain County Foster Care: What You Need

When we began looking into foster care, I jumped online and found a ton of information. Some of it conflicting. Some of it only pertaining to specific states or regions. So, I thought I'd type up a post of what is needed to become a licensed foster parent and foster-to-adopt in Lorain County, Ohio. 

1.) You and you spouse/partner must take 36 hours of training classes, they are offered quarterly in Lorain county and the current class schedule can be found here.  

2.) You must undergo a home study, which takes 3-6 months, and a lot of paperwork.

To gather on your own (and make copies): 
- Five year proof of residency for each person applying as a foster parent
- Four references, only one can be a family member. They do not need to write a letter.
- Professional references for any job/volunteering that involved children.
- Marriage verification (if applicable).
- Divorce verification (if applicable).
- Child support order and compliance (if applicable).
- Proof of legal residence for all household members (ie. a birth certificate).
-Military discharge papers (if applicable).
- Veterinary records for all pets, must be current.
- Landlord permission letter if renting.
- Proof of Auto Insurance.
- Copy of driver's license for all drivers in the household.
- Copy of homeowners/renters insurance policy.
- Picture of the family (current).
- Utility bills dated within 6 months of licensing (gas, water, electric, sewage, phone).
- W-2 or Income Tax Return for most recent year for each applicant.
- Pay stubs for a two month period, dated within 6 months of licensing.

To get from the home study assessor and then do:
- Individual questionnaire
- Child characteristic checklist (for example, would you be willing to consider accepting a child that steals?)
- Evacuation plan for each floor of the home.
- Disaster plan.
- W-9's.
- Financial Form
- Car seat information/letter

Things to do: 
- Be fingerprinted and background checked by LCCS
- Medicals on each person in the home to sign off that all are healthy.
- TB test on everyone age 14 or older.
- Fire inspection by local fire department.
- Drug tests for everyone age 14 or older.
- Get fire extinguisher/ smoke detectors as required by fire department.
- Put all medications in a lock box.
- Have the room prepared for inspection
- If you are accepting children 0-2, have the crib already set up to be inspected. 

Others pieces of the puzzle: 
- Prepare for an individual interview with the homestudy assessor.
- Be prepared to make changes to the house as needed.
- Provide the names of three alternative caregivers that will have to be fingerprinted and go through a basic home inspection in order to be allowed to babysit your foster children.
- Expect 4-6 home visits with the homestudy assessor, one of which will be a surprise visit, and expect the visits to last 1.5-3 hours.

As we continue going through the process I may update this, or have more posts! But we've had people ask us what is needed and required, and this is a pretty solid place to start.

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